This was the night hockey head coach Jeff Jackson must have envisioned when he promised a new hockey arena to recruits of the Notre Dame hockey program. A raucous, sell-out crowd of 5,022 whose noise level was elevated by close confines of the new Compton Family Ice Arena. A dominating 5-2 win for an Irish program fresh off a Frozen Four appearance and ranked in the top 10 of two national polls. A hat trick from sophomore Anders Lee and a goal from senior captain Sean Lorenz. The opening of the new arena could not have been scripted any better. While the Irish earned a decisive win over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the night was about more than the game. It was a culmination of the rebirth of the Notre Dame hockey program under coach Jeff Jackson. Before Jackson took control of the program in 2005, the Irish had one NCAA Tournament appearance in their history and played in a Joyce Center facility that felt like a temporary home. Also, the Irish seemed to have hit rock bottom in 2004-05 with a dismal five-win season. Friday night showed how far the program has come since then with two Frozen Four appearances in six seasons. This turnaround eventually paid off in the construction of a state-of-the-art home. The cozy, 5,000-seat, double-deck arena left those in attendance in awe and motivated the Irish players. "We really tried to stay focused on the game," Jackson said. "But (the atmosphere) made such a difference." As for the game, its outcome was decided in a dominant second period performance by the Irish in which they built a 3-1 lead. Entering the period with the game tied at 1-1, the Irish outshot the Engineers 14-2, executed crisp passes and played with a physical edge. "We were much better with the puck in the second period," Jackson said. "When our guys got on a roll, there's no question the crowd motivated them." Lee quickly gave the Irish the lead with a goal 1:09 into second period. He found an opening by the faceoff circle and fired a shot into the back of the net for his second tally on the night. At the 14:37 mark, Lorenz scored his second goal of the season. He momentarily lost control of the pass before regaining the puck and rifling a shot into the upper corner of the goal. Meanwhile, Notre Dame's physical edge resulted in two penalties but the Irish managed to kill both RPI power plays. Perhaps all the Irish needed was a home game to exorcise two disturbing early-season trends of slow starts and poor power play execution. While the Irish did not dominate the first period, they played the Engineers to a 1-1 tie. In their previous three games, the Irish were outscored 5-1 in the first period by their opponents. At the 9:21 mark in the first period, Lee christened the Compton Family Ice Arena with its first goal on a shot from the side of the goal that found the back of the net. Lee completed his hat trick with an empty net score 18:40 into the third period. He could have completed the hat trick earlier on a power play in the third period. However, his shot of the mid-air puck into the net was ruled a high sticking penalty. Entering the night, the Irish had converted only four of 24 power plays into goals. On Friday, the Irish converted at a 33.3 percent success rate with one goal in three power play chances. - Matt Unger ('14)
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I was excited to check out last Friday's pep rally. As a lifelong Notre Dame fan it was great to see Mike Golic, Tim Brown and Mike Brey up close and in person. But I knew I had to leave early to secure tickets to the unveiling of a new, state-of-the-art facility. I had to check out the Notre Dame hockey team as it took on Rensselaer at the Compton Family Ice Arena. From the moment I walked into the complex I realized that the long months of construction across from the Joyce Center had been for a great cause. The arena is completely modern in every way and the atmosphere inside Compton was electric. Students, alumni, the band and the Fighting Irish players were all ready to try out the new digs. Everywhere I looked I saw something sparkling and incredible. The Irish pub on the second floor seems too good to believe, and the poster-making stations found throughout the arena were a great idea. I've got to say, the videoboard stole the show. The combination of lights, sounds and high quality videos that the new system allowed was amazing. All of the new features had the Irish fans in the arena fired up for a big game. Luckily enough, the Irish players delivered. Maybe it was the energy of the crowd in the new arena. Maybe it was anger at falling a few spots in the rankings after suffering two early losses. Maybe the players were caught up in the emotion of it being "USC weekend" on campus. Whatever the reason, Notre Dame came out with the kind of determination and fire that is almost impossible to beat. Anders Lee was a man on a mission. Lee put on a show, scoring not only the first goal in the Compton Family Ice Arena but also notching its first hat trick. The Irish were aggressive throughout the night and played with the same level of intensity that led them to a Frozen Four appearance last year. The result was a dominant performance in a commanding 5-2 victory over the Engineers. It was the perfect way to open the new Compton Family Ice Arena. And as a series of familiar chants rocked the arena at the end of the third period, I realized it was also the perfect way to kickoff the weekend. We got to see what can happen when an inspired team performance combines with a passionate fan base. They're both powerful forces, but when they're together they're just abut unstoppable. - Tom McGuire ('14)
Last Friday, a new era of Notre Dame hockey began as the team relocated from the Joyce Center's north dome to Compton Family Ice Arena. The new facility is an incredible upgrade from the old and gives the top-tier team a home with quality that reflects the recent success of the program. Playing Rensselaer Tech (RPI), the Irish put on a show for the largest hockey crowd in South Bend history - a sell-out showing of 5,022. Sophomore Anders Lee continued his scoring tear, bringing his season goal total to eight with a hat trick in the inaugural game. Lee is tied for the most goals in the nation with Jeremy Langlois from Quinnipiac, despite playing in three fewer games. What was most encouraging about the game, however, was the electrifying atmosphere that the new arena brought. A few kinks in the system notwithstanding, the experience was overwhelmingly superior to that of the Joyce Center. The videoboard was able to better introduce the players and provide a real-time feed for when the puck went into a blind spot of the ice. But the real benefit of the arena was much more intangible than that. It's difficult to describe, but the difference in atmosphere is like the disparity in speed between the NFL and college football. We're at a whole new level now. Hopefully the Irish will be able to feed off the inevitable increase in energy that will come at home. I'll be anxious to see how loud the place can get in a game that's still close during the third period. As exciting as Friday's game was, I have a feeling it can get a lot louder in that arena. - Craig Chval ('15)
Notre Dame returns to action tonight as the Irish play host to the Rensselaer Engineers on at 7:35 p.m. (ET). The game will be the first-ever played at the new Compton Family Ice Arena. Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation. Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem. Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.
AL.com - A group of University of Notre Dame student-athletes and administrators wrapped up a week of volunteering in tornado relief Thursday on a fall break service trip organized by Notre Dame and the University of Alabama. The trip, called Fight for Tide, brought 24 students and six administrators to Tuscaloosa to work in collaboration with Project Team Up, an initiative to rebuild communities partnered with Nick Saban's foundation Nick's Kids. Students representing the Notre Dame baseball, cross country, cheerleading, fencing, men's golf, women's lacrosse, rowing and track and field teams were selected for the trip based on essays they wrote. Sarah Smith, program coordinator for student athlete welfare and development at Notre Dame, said the idea to help Tuscaloosa began with a former Notre Dame employee who currently works in the ticket office at Alabama. He emailed the athletics office at Notre Dame and asked them to collect relief supplies that Alabama would pay to ship. Smith, who is originally from a town an hour away from Joplin, Missouri, began to come up with an idea of a service trip when students started talking over the summer about going to down to Tuscaloosa to help. "I just kind of ran with the idea and started calling people to see if it would be a possibility, and people started wanting to support it and make it happen," Smith said. After arriving Saturday, the group has worked at two sites in Alberta City, clearing storm debris on lots where new houses are planned to be built. They also met with Alabama athletics director Mal Moore and went on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium, had dinner with Notre Dame's Alabama alumni club at Dreamland, attended Mass with students at the St. Francis of Assisi Parish on the Alabama campus and toured the baseball and softball facilities. On Thursday, at a site just off University Boulevard on 21st Avenue East, Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy and several players joined the group from Notre Dame in clearing debris from destroyed houses and carrying limbs to the street. Notre Dame baseball player Tommy Chase said the experience changed his perspective on the important things in life. "I look at this as a great opportunity to help where there's a need," Chase said. "We get caught up at school doing a lot things for ourselves, whether it's in sports or in the classroom. Those are all great things, but it's revolved around our own needs and goals. Being able to come down here and help others is really important for my own personal development, but also I want to hopefully inspire this community in some way." Notre Dame sophomore cheerleader Erin Garfield took time away from her team to travel to Tuscaloosa because the fall break gave her time to join the service trip. On Saturday night, she'll be cheering on the sidelines as the Irish face USC in South Bend. "It's just been a great experience all around, hearing all these stories from people who experienced the tornado and getting to meet all these amazing people, Garfield said. Alabama sophomore softball player Ryan Iamurri said she was glad to share the experience of volunteering in Alberta City with the students from Notre Dame. "When you live here, you kind of get back in your normal routine, and if you don't cross this bridge (to Alberta), you forget what it's like," Iamurri said."It was so nice of them because we realize there's still so much more to do. To come out here with them is special."
- Despite an overwhelming edge in shots and quality scoring chances in the second half and both overtime periods in its BIG EAST Conference women's soccer match at Rutgers, Notre Dame wasn't able to find the winning solution and wound up sharing the spoils with the Scarlet Knights, as Sunday's matinee ended in a 0-0 draw at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. ... it was the fourth consecutive shutout for the Fighting Irish and keeps Notre Dame unbeaten in its last four matches, as well as six of their last seven outings ... the Fighting Irish finished with a 21-9 advantage in total shots for the afternoon, including a 17-3 edge during the final 45 minutes and the two 10-minute overtime sessions. - A second straight BIG EAST Conference volleyball road win came in the form of a 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-12) victory for Notre Dame Sunday afternoon at the West Virginia Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. ... paving the way for the Irish over host West Virginia was senior Kristen Dealy and her 16 kills ... in fact, Dealy hit an eye-popping .533 on the day without an error in 30 attempts. - Sean Lorenz, Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan each had a goal and an assist and Notre Dame got strong play from its special teams as the Irish rallied to overcome a 2-0 second-period deficit on the way to a 5-3 hockey win over the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs Saturday night in front of 6,303 fans at AMSOIL Arena ... Nick Larson and Kevin Lind added the other two Irish goals while Sam Calabrese chipped in a pair of key assists for a two-point night on the score sheet ... Steven Summerhays made 21 saves in helping Notre Dame to a split of the weekend series. - The 11th-ranked men's soccer team played No. 1 Connecticut to a scoreless draw in BIG EAST Blue Division action on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,943 fans at Alumni Stadium on the Notre Dame campus ... the tie snapped Connecticut's 11-game win streak. - Here are some of Brian Kelly's comments from Sunday's media teleconference: "We've said, listen, if we want to make the playoffs we have to win each and every week. We said, let's get to the top 14 in the country, you're in the playoffs and that means you've got to win a lot of games. It's a must-win situation each week and every game is a playoff game for us." "Any time you are preparing against the option, yards have nothing to do with the outcome. It's about keeping the points down." "When you have to prepare for triple option and the ability of the quarterback to run, you put in one less coverage for Michael Floyd and you put in one less blitz package to get after Tommy Rees because you're afraid you may get caught in that when (Andrew) Hendrix is in the game So it protects him (Rees) more when you have that kind of versatility in your offense." "When you can protect the quarterback at the level that we do and to run the ball the past two weeks for over 250 yards, that's about as complete as it gets for an offensive line." - Here are some leftover football notes from the Notre Dame-Air Force contest: * The last time Notre Dame had seven different players score TDs in a game was in the 48-17 win over Arizona State in 1999 at Notre Dame Stadium. * The last Notre Dame QB to run for 100 yards was Carlyle Holiday who had 22-109 vs. Boston College in 2001; Andrew Hendrix had six for 111. * The 555 total yards by Notre Dame is the most this season (551 last week at Purdue). * Notre Dame's 59 points are most by an Irish team since 62-0 vs. Rutgers in 1996 in Lou Holtz's last game at ND Stadium * It was first time Irish have scored 50 anywhere since a 57-7 win at Stanford in 2003. * It was first time Irish have been over 50 points at Notre Dame Stadium since a 52-20 win over Boston College in 1997. * The last time a Notre Dame team scored more points in any half than first-half 42 vs. Air Force was 48 in second half vs. Georgia Tech in 1977. * Last time an Irish QB threw four TD passes in first half of a game was Brady Quinn who did it in 2004 in first half vs. Washington at Notre Dame Stadium. * Tommy Rees now has at least one TD pass in 11 straight games - third on all-time list behind Brady Quinn (16) and Jimmy Clausen (13)
When you consider all the technology available today, it's downright amazing to think how archaic athletic communications were just a few short years ago. Need the latest University of Notre Dame football statistics? They'd be calculated and typed by hand on a manual typewriter (eventually the "big innovation" IBM Selectric typewriter came along), reproduced and mailed on Sunday nights and maybe you'd receive them via ordinary mail by Thursday. Need them quicker than that? The hit commodity in technology in the 1970s was the Xerox Telecopier (a facsimile machine) that required either four or six minutes (depending on how clear you wanted the type to read) to send a single page of copy to another Telecopier on the other end. If a media representative out of town needed your entire news release, depth chart and stats, it might take an hour or more to send it all. Breaking news happening on one of the Irish athletic fields? There was no simple way to communicate it. Pick up the telephone and dictate. Call media outlets one at a time to alert them about a hiring or press conference. Three technology advances changed everything in the sports information world everywhere - cell phones, the Internet and e-mail. For years the joke around the Notre Dame athletic offices was that the Irish quarterback on a given day might break his leg and - given that practices were closed to the media - there was some chance no one would find out until the next day. There was no texting, no Facebook - maybe no way for the word to get out other than old-fashioned word of mouth. The World Wide Web prompted the offering of athletic sites like und.com that debuted in 1995. In the beginning sites like Notre Dame's offered strictly the basics - mostly what was available via traditional press releases. There was no video in the "early days," and media members weren't yet routinely carrying computers or laptops. So, quite often, the plea to media to utilize school sites for time-sensitive items like statistics went unheeded. About that same time, cell phones changed the face of telecommunications. When current athletics staffers consider all the detailed scheduling and adjustments that go into, for example, a weeklong stay for a postseason bowl game, it's hard to imagine how those events ever occurred without cell phones. The Orange Bowl provided some new contraption-style portable phones to Notre Dame reps one year, but they looked more like walkie-talkies than the current variety and they didn't exactly fit in your pocket.
- The Hockey East Association and Notre Dame announced today that the Fighting Irish have been accepted into the league as the 11th member school and will begin hockey play in the 2013-14 campaign ... the announcement came at a press conference on the ice at Notre Dame's new Compton Family Ice Arena ... in making the announcement, Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna said, "It is not an overstatement to say that this is one of the most significant days in the history of our conference. The addition of new institutions is always exciting but Notre Dame brings a unique set of qualities and circumstances to the continued growth of our league. We are proud to welcome Notre Dame into the fold and we look forward to getting to the many details that come with this announcement." ... Notre Dame Vice President and Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said, "We are excited to be joining Hockey East beginning in the 2013-14 season. Many factors played a role in our decision, but three were of special importance to us. The first two were the critical issues of the student-athlete experience and Notre Dame's fit with the other schools in the conference. But of special importance in this instance, was our goal of giving our hockey program an unprecedented level of national exposure through our expanded partnership with the NBC Sports Group. Athletics at Notre Dame has always served as a platform for promoting the University." ... Irish head coach Jeff Jackson added, "We are honored and pleased to join Hockey East for the 2013-14 season. The conference is an established league with a great tradition and outstanding programs that share Notre Dame's values. The exposure for our players and team in a major media and NHL market will be second to none. Hockey East's commitment to playing a smaller league schedule will allow us to enhance our home and non-conference schedule with traditional western and Big Ten rivals. This will allow us to bring great games to the Compton Family Ice Arena and create a more diverse, nationally-televised schedule. We are grateful to Joe Bertagna and the Hockey East Association members for this tremendous opportunity." - Notre Dame already has sold out its allotment of women's basketball season tickets in Purcell Pavilion for the 2011-12 season ... a limited number of single-game tickets go on sale next week, with season-ticket holders having first shot at those. - Speaking of tickets, hockey tickets are a hot-enough item in the new Compton Family Ice Arena that a number of Irish home games already feature only stand-room availability. - There are three former Irish players alive in the Major League Baseball playoffs - John Axford and Craig Counsell with the Milwaukee Brewers and Brad Lidge with the Philadelphia Phillies. - As the Dan Devine sculpture dedication looms on Friday afternoon, consider some of the assistant coaches who worked under Devine: * The late Jim Johnson, who became a highly-successful NFL defensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles and also coached with Arizona Cardinals, Indianapolis and Seattle * Jim Gruden, later a longtime NFL scout and father of Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden * Merv Johnson, who went on to become offensive coordinator for 20 seasons at Oklahoma. * Greg Blache, who became a successful NFL defensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears * Hank Kuhlmann who went on to coach in Green Bay and Tampa Bay and briefly served as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 1989 * Johnny Roland who coached with Arizona, New Orleans, Green Bay, Philadelphia, New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, Chicago in the NFL * Bill Meyers who coached with Pittsburgh and the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders in the NFL * Francis Peay, later the head coach at Northwestern * Gene Smith, now the athletics director at Ohio State * Ron Toman, later an NFL Indianapolis Colts assistant * Longtime Irish assistants Joe Yonto and Brian Boulac - The men's golf team climbed to 20th in this week's (Oct. 5-11) Golfstat rankings ... it marks the first time since October of 2005 that the Irish have been ranked in the Golfstat polls .. in addition to finding themselves within the top 25 of the Golfstat rankings, the Irish also debuted at 28th in the first Golfweek/Sagarin rankings of the 2011-12 season, which was released Sunday. - Men's golfer Max Scodro has been tabbed BIG EAST Men's Golfer of the Month for September ... the Irish senior notched three top-15 results during the month while finishing as the top Notre Dame golfer at each of the three events ... entering his final campaign with the Irish, Scodro sat third in career stroke average (minimum 35 rounds played) at 73.99 and after a three-tournament September slate that saw him finish fourth, tied for sixth and tied for 11th, Scodro has moved into second on that prestigious list with a73.80 average. - The BIG EAST and Big Ten conferences have announced the pairings for the 2012 Big Ten-BIG EAST Baseball Challenge, hosted by the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission ... the fourth annual event begins Feb. 17 and will feature a 24-game schedule spanning three days and five venues in the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area ... Notre Dame opens the event against Illinois and return to action with games against Iowa and Purdue throughout the weekend.